25th Feast of Fields supports vulnerable seniors, caregivers

Chefs preparing a side of bread with espelette and lemon butter. Photo courtesy of Carefor.

By Alvin Tsang

Ottawa’s largest culinary event, the Feast of Fields, is back for its 25th year.

This year’s event is happening on Sept. 15. For the sixth time, it will be a fundraiser for Carefor: a local nonprofit organization dedicated to helping caregivers and seniors living with dementia. The charity works closely with clients of all ages, caregivers and other members within the circle of care to provide community support and programming.

For Feast of Fields, 15 of the top chefs in the city each team up with different farmers to create small bites using organic and sustainable food grown in the Ottawa Valley.

Kitchissippi’s own Jason Laurin, chef and owner of Essence Catering, is one of this year’s returning chefs.

“Our dish will be a seared duck breast, celery root puree, roasted beet gel and meringue with pickled cherries and cherry demi-glace,” Laurin said.

Jason Laurin, chef and owner of Essence Catering, cooking at an outdoor event. Photo courtesy of Essence Catering and photographer Justin Van Leeuwen.

The duck will come from Mariposa Farm in Plantagenet, and the beets and celery will be provided by organic producer Bower Farm in North Gower.

“We take our contribution to the event very seriously every year,” Laurin said. “We try to make sure we produce something memorable.”

Trevor Eggleton, communications manager at Carefor, said while previous Feast of Fields events incorporated an auction of chefs’ services, this year won’t include that component.

“We’re exploring different ways to fundraise, and we’re just grateful to the chefs for showing up and giving us their time,” Eggleton said. 

The event will take place at Ottawa City Hall and is expected to host 450 people. Tickets were already halfway sold out a month in advance. 

“Most people buy their tickets one week ahead of time, so it’s going great,” Eggleton said.

The first time Carefor’s Feast of Fields sold out was in 2019, and with the community seemingly excited to get back out there after a long pandemic, tickets are selling even faster.

“We hope to raise $30,000 this year,” Eggleton said. “The event, in a lot of ways, is trying to help two communities most affected by COVID-19.”

All proceeds will go towards supporting Carefor’s programs for seniors living with dementia and helping vulnerable seniors who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend the programs.

 A layered dessert with blueberry raspberry mousse, caramelized white chocolate, lemon passion fruit gel and dark chocolate from last year’s Women Outstanding in their Field event. Photo courtesy of Carefor.

Aside from fundraising, the Feast of Fields team also has the chefs and the restaurant community in mind. The hope is for this year’s Feast of Fields to signal a return to normal for them.

“It’s one of those events that the chefs look forward to throughout the year, and because it’s a night of everyone who believes in the same things — delicious foods, mental health of seniors — it ends up being a beautiful opportunity to connect those two groups together, especially after all that they’ve been through in the pandemic,” Eggleton said.For longtime participants like Laurin, supporting Carefor’s programs for vulnerable seniors with dementia is a worthy cause.

“It’s a massive undertaking to keep all these health services running,” Laurin said. “I’ve helped them for so long I feel like part of the family, so I continue to do my part.”

Tickets to this year’s Feast of Fields cost $75 and are available for purchase at carefor.ca/events/feast-of-fields-2021.htm

This story ran in the Giving section of the September 2021 edition of Kitchissippi Times.

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